“We are now in the final moment. We are really at the moment of truth. This is where we actually will find out if this can be solved” stated Espen Barth Eide, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Cyprus after the first day of Cyprus talks in Geneva.
The Special Adviser in his remarks after the meeting between the Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci and their delegations, explained that the meetings between 9 – 11 Jan are laying the groundwork for an international conference on Cyprus, “which will convene in Geneva in the Palais des Nations on the morning of Thursday, the 12th of January”, where the guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom will participate aswell as “the EU [European Union] in a special observer role, together with the delegation from Cyprus, and who will then jointly try to solve the large and challenging issues pertaining to the security and guarantees chapter”.
Eide reiterated what has been said over the past few weeks that “the 12th will only be effective if we are successful between the 9th and 11th but was certain that the Conference on the 12th will take place.
He was quite clear as to the difficulty of the Cyprus talks but hopeful, “this is going to be difficult, but it’s possible” he stated. He explained that it will be difficult because “it is not the easiest of questions that have been left until the end” adding that “as normal, it is some of the most complicated, or most emotional issues that we have left to the end, and this is the nature of this kind of talks”.
The Special Adviser to Cyprus underlined that “these talks are fully led by and owned by the Cypriots. It’s the leaders in Cyprus that are responsible for every single sentence, every single word, in the talks”.
Eide did not fail to mention 2004 and made sure he differentiated between the two periods by stating that the “two leaders are the ones who are responsible now, but at the end of the day, through referenda, in the two communities in Cyprus, it will be all Cypriots who make up their mind about this”.
He recognised the fact that this is a historic moment for the Cypriots and appreciated that it has taken several generations to solve this problem, in doing so Eide believes that solving the problem “would send a very strong signal to a world and a region where there are many wars and many things breaking apart”.
Asked on who will participate on the 12th in Geneva Eide clarified the fact that both Greece and Turkey are in unison in their opinion that if they participate in the conference they expect that most issues would be solved and that they “are not interested in being party to discussions that should and will be left to the Cypriots”. Concerning who will participate, Eide left some room for the Turkish President’s presence by answering that participants will be of “the highest or the second highest level available”.
On today’s talks Eide said that the main topic was property and did not conceal the fact that there some issues that surround the property topic that they are “stuck on”. One of these as stated by the Adviser is the “concept of emotional link”. Eide also stated that “the World Bank and the IMF” are at the talks and that a lot of work had been done on the financing of the settlement “including the property financing, and it’s part of the whole picture”.
According to Eide today they also discussed governance, tomorrow they will discuss economy and the EU “where there isn’t really anything dramatic left to be done, and then we will also have a discussion on implementation” he stated. He added that on Wednesday territory will be discussed, and then property will be looked at again.
Finally Espen Barth Eide made a reference to the fact that despite Cyprus having a Cyprus problem for half a century, it has been relatively unaffected by the regional drama” adding that “you cannot take for granted that frozen conflicts remain frozen forever if you don’t try to deal with them when you can”. This is “a moment of opportunity that it would be very unwise to miss” he said./IBNA
Photo: IBNA/Spiros Sideris